Senators News (October 27th)

Since my last post Ottawa’s luck initially continued as they faced Curtis McElhinney, scoring twice on him before injury brought Bobrovsky in (who they managed to beat and get the win).  That came on the heels of beating Calvin Pickard (of all people), but after those two wins and the postponed game against Toronto, they lost in OT against New Jersey (Mark Stone‘s TOI dropping for whatever reason), and then were unable to score more than once on Scott Darling (with Greening in for Stone and Wiercioch playing the fewest minutes among defensemen).  Typical Paul MacLean head-scratching decisions continue to plague the lineup.  Ottawa is now 4-2-1 on the season, but their record does not reassure me about where the team is heading.

Amelia L takes a look at the different ways Mike Hoffman and Mark Stone have been used and I agree with her conclusion that one of the main reasons the latter gets more TOI is because of his size.

Binghamton has stumbled out of the gate going 2-3-2 to start the season.  Incredibly, Andrew Hammond has started every single game of the season and faced an appalling amount of shots (40 or more in five of the seven games).  Chris Wideman leads the team in scoring, while free agent signee Carter Camper has been a dud to start the season (one point and a -5, tied for worst on the team).  Jean-Gabriel Pageau is also off to a slow start, while newcomers Alex Guptill and Garrett Thompson have been underwhelming.  It’s still early and I expect the team to improve defensively, but it’s a lacklustre start for a talented team.  The most disappointing element has to be their defensecorps, which includes a number of veterans who should be doing more.

Evansville has opened its season with two wins, Sens prospect Chris Driedger serving as the back-up in each.  Both Jakub Culek and Troy Rutkowski picked up assists in the second game.  Incredibly, the team won’t play again until Halloween, which is a remarkably slow start to the season.

Prospect update

SHL (Sweden)
Mikael Wikstrand (Frolunda) 13-2-2-4
Has a pair of assists in his last three games
Andreas Englund (Djurgarden) 15-1-2-3
Scored his first career goal over his last four games
Marcus Hogberg (Linkoping) 3.01 .900
His numbers have dropped significantly over his last two appearances

CHL
Tobias Lindberg (OHL, Oshawa) 13-7-10-17
Has continued his torrid pace (7-5-6-11 since my previous update)
Francis Perron (QMJHL, Rouyn-Noranda) 13-6-8-14
Just one point over his last four games
Nick Paul (OHL, North Bay) 11-10-4-14
Continuing his red-hot pace (6-7-1-8 since last time)
Vincent Dunn (QMJHL, Rimouski) 16-6-5-11
Six points in his last five games
Ben Harpur (OHL, Guelph) 7-2-5-7
Continuing to put up career numbers
Miles Gendron (BCHL, Penticton) 4-1-1-2

NCAA
Quentin Shore (U Denver) 2-1-3-4
Robbie Baillargeon (Boston U) 1-1-0-1
Shane Eiserman (U New Hampshire) 3-1-0-1
Kelly Summers (Clarkson) 2-0-0-0
Chris Leblanc (Merrimack) DNP
The team is three games into the season

NCAA-III
Tim Boyle (Endicott) DNP

This article is written by Peter Levi (@eyeonthesens)

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Senators News (October 17th)

Sometimes I feel like Paul MacLean deliberately trolls fans, because after puzzling player use in the Sens opener he’s slowly but surely shifted the lineup in the way that we all think it should be.  Let’s take a quick look at the obvious signs of sanity over the last three games (all wins, although last night’s was against Colorado’s third-stringer):

Chris Neil: his ice time is down–slightly granted, but down–if he must play, less is more
Mark Stone: the converse of the above, as after playing less than ten minutes in the opener he’s been playing more and more
Patrick Wiercioch: scratched twice for no particular reason, he’s been returned to the lineup and received solid TOI
Jared Cowen: I don’t know that he has to sit (see the Nichols link below), but the fact that MacLean has shortened his leash is a good sign
Colin Greening: speaking of scratches, the man with the new contract has played in exactly one game and received fourth-line minutes

After all these positives it’s a bit odd that Bobby Ryan‘s TOI is middling the past two games, although it’s hard to argue with wins (there are some troubling signs as Nichols points out the team’s Fenwick and Corsi numbers, particularly the latter amongst the blueliners).

Binghamton is exactly one game into the schedule and the dream of a perfect season has died after dropping a 3-2 OT decision to Worcester.  Andrew Hammond took the loss (making 45 saves) while Ryan Dzingel scored both goals.  We all know to take plus/minus with a grain of salt, but it’s still impressive that Patrick Mullen was -3 on the night.

Evansville opens it’s ECHL season tomorrow, having announced their opening night roster yesterday.  Of note for Sens prospects along with curiosities: Chris Driedger will have to compete for starts with former AHL-goaltender Cal Heeter, who was sent down by Adirondack (Philadelphia’s affiliate); Evansville’s blueline is very thin so there should be ample ice time for Troy Rutkowski; former B-Sen Matt Lowry (who went from that organisation into the CIS and then back to pro hockey) joins the forward group.

While the NCAA is not fully underway, many Sens prospects have started their season so here’s a quick look at how they are performing:

SHL (Sweden)
Mikael Wikstrand (Frolunda) 10-2-0-2
Still only 20-years old, he’s fighting for playing time with veterans Christian Backman, Elias Fasth, Christoffer Persson, and 2012 Edmonton draft pick Erik Gustafsson
Marcus Hogberg (Linkoping) 2.55 .918
The 19-year old is currently splitting duties with veteran David Rautio, despite having better stats
Andreas Englund (Djurgarden) 11-0-2-2
It’s impressive that the 18-year old defenseman is seeing regular time in the league

CHL
Francis Perron (QMJHL, Rouyn-Noranda) 9-5-8-13
Currently third in team scoring
Nick Paul (OHL, North Bay) 5-3-3-6
It should be a banner year for him in junior
Tobias Lindberg (OHL, Oshawa) 6-2-4-6
A great start for the Swedish import
Vincent Dunn (QMJHL, Rimouski) 11-3-2-5
A middling start on his new team
Ben Harpur (OHL, Guelph) 5-1-3-4
It looks like the big man might finally be breaking out offensively

The NCAA players: Robbie Baillargeon (Boston U), Chris Leblanc (Merrimack), Quentin Shore (U Denver), Kelly Summers (Clarkson), Shane Eiserman (U New Hampshire), and Miles Gendron (U Connecticut).

An interesting note about Tim Boyle (fourth-round pick from 2012), after leaving Union College (NCAA) to play one more year of junior (USPHL) last season, he was unable to get into the top-tier of the NCAA and will be plugging away for Endicott, which does not bode well for his future as a pro.

Former draft pick Marcus Sorensen (2010) has finally hit his stride, as the 22-year old is leading Djurgarden in scoring.

Former B-Sens Wacey Hamilton (Utica) and Corey Cowick (Springfield) remain with AHL teams on tryouts.  Ludwig Karlsson (foisted upon Dallas as part of the Jason Spezza trade) was unable to stick in the AHL (just like last year) and is suiting up with Idaho in the ECHL.  Also toiling in the ECHL is discarded draft pick Jeff Costello (now with Tampa).

Not strictly related to Ottawa, but I’ve always enjoyed Hockey’s Future‘s European league previews and for those interested you can check out those for the Finnish league (just the Liiga now, part one and part two–Binghamton trivia buffs can enjoy the Tomas Kudelka and Craig Schira sightings) and the SHL in Sweden (part one and part two–homes for former B-Sen Mattias Karlsson and former Sen Chris Campoli).

This article is written by Peter Levi (@eyeonthesens)

Senators News (October 11th)

The Sens opened up the season with a 3-2 loss to Nashville and after suffering through Paul MacLean’s bizarre player choices last year it was more of the on Thursday.  Nichols adds numbers to the obvious: Chris Phillips was awful (worst Corsi in the game–here Travis Yost loses his mind about it), Chris Neil was on the powerplay when the team needed the tying goal (!), Mark Stone barely played, no Patrick Wiercioch…the song remains the same.  Although the evidence was there before the season opened, if the first game is anything to go by Paul MacLean learned exactly nothing from the 2013-14 campaign.  Is MacLean simply out of touch?  Would the team be that much better with different decisions behind the bench?  Time will tell.  Also on “the song remains the same” line, none of these matters are to be found in The Ottawa Sun or The Ottawa Citizen (no Corsi’s or Fenwicks either).

Tonight Ottawa faces Tampa Bay and we already know Wiercioch will be watching from the pressbox.  The Lehner will be unleashed, but otherwise the lineup that failed against Nashville will be on the ice again–so much for accountability (unless you believe Anderson was responsible for the Nashville loss).

I could write at length about Chris Pronger appointment for Player Safety, but all that needs to be said is that it’s a sign of just how out of touch the NHL is.  As much as hockey fans might want to laugh or mock the NFL’s recent series of debacles, it’s worth remembering the NHL is at least as backwards.

Binghamton announced their opening roster, featuring surprises Brad Mills, Danny New, and Scott Greenham.  The latter two played with Binghamton last season and New in particular has a fair amount of AHL-experience.  Keeping 31-year old Mills is an interesting decision, but he does have over 300 games of AHL experience and no doubt can handle being in and out of the lineup.  Cutting Jakub Culek and Troy Rutkowski was a no-brainer, but it’s a bit unusual that Chris Driedger was also sent down to Evansville; PTO Ty Wishart is also ECHL-bound.  Keep in mind the roster could change and shift at any time and that all the aforementioned players are marginal pieces for Bingo at this stage.

The B-Sens play Worcester tonight (I haven’t seen the lineup posted yet).  Last season Worcester was 36-34-6, finishing 4th in the Atlantic Division (out of the playoffs).  The Sharks have had a massive roster overhaul and I thought I’d take a quick look at their additions: undrafted ECHLer J. P. Anderson is serving as the backup goaltender for now; Taylor Fedun (former Oiler org blueliner) is on the blueline, as is another NCAA grad and Tampa Bay alum Matt Taormina; former Colorado draft pick (2009) Gus Young (defenseman) enters as a rookie; Forwards: NCAA tryout Derek DeBlois, free agent Swede Petter Emmanuelsson, veteran AHL-pest Michael Haley, free agent Swede Melker Karlsson, ECHLer Jeremy Langlois, AHL-vet Bryan Lerg, and ECHL-vet Evan Trupp.  It’s an illustration of the thinness of the Sharks organisation how many free agents and ECHL hopefuls dot their lineup.

This article is written by Peter Levi (@eyeonthesens)

Senators News (October 7th)

The organisation made two good moves last week, re-signing Bobby Ryan to a seven-year extension and making Erik Karlsson the captain.  The latter move doesn’t necessarily have any impact on the ice, but it is at least an acknowledgement that EK is the team’s most important player.  I’ve seen no serious criticism of the move, although Nichols does remind us of pertinent facts regarding Ryan:

a) is coming off a significant injury (sports hernia); b) will be 28 in the first year of his new extension and 35 in the last year of his deal; c) he has never had great underlying numbers; d) should see his production should decline post-30; the Senators simply could not afford to let him leave or allow his uncertain status linger over the team for the duration of the season as we watched his trade value sink like it did for so many rental players at last year’s trade deadline. As much as I hate it when organizations focus explicitly on the optics involved, in this situation, the optics were important.

Pre-season is over and the Sens finished with a 4-2-1 record.  It doesn’t mean much (anything really), but a winning record is nice however irrelevant it is.  The roster has been revealed and includes no surprises, with Curtis Lazar getting his obligatory hyped cup of coffee before being returned to junior.  What interests me going forward is whether Paul MacLean will have the balls/brains to sit Chris Neil, Chris Phillips, Colin Greening, or any other of his favourites when they aren’t playing well–my gut says no, but fortunately we can rely on reality and hope for the best.  As it stands I think we can get ready for frequent shots of Mark Borowiecki and Mike Hoffman having coffee in the pressbox.

All in all, outside contract talk, training camp has been remarkably uneventful.  We’ve had zero roster surprises, no roster moves, and no injuries save for Methot.  The Ottawa Senators will suit up in a couple of days with a roster very similar to last year’s, absent Jason Spezza and with David Legwand and Alex Chiasson added.  Can this roster be better than last year?  It’s going to need players to step up along with a coaching staff that allots ice time more appropriately.

Jeff Ulmer offers us his thoughts on player entering their first year with Bingo and my opinion on a couple of issues: the answer to Brad Mills, Brandon Wong, and Guillaume Lepine is “no” to making the team; the same doesn’t apply to PTO Ty Wishart–the former first-round pick (2006) is an adequate AHL blueliner and would round out the Binghamton blueline (up to seven players given that Troy Rutkowski doesn’t count).

Speaking of the B-Sens, the roster has become largely set with all the cuts from Ottawa now complete.  A brief look at that roster:
Goaltending: Andrew Hammond/Chris Driedger (organisation favourite Scott Greenham will go to Evansville)
Defense: Aaron Johnson, Alex Grant, Fredrik Claesson, Chris Wideman, Patrick Mullen, Ty Wishart, and Michael Sdao (Rutkowski to Evansville)
Forwards: Jean-Gabriel Pageau, Matt Puempel, Shane Prince, Carter Camper, Ryan Dzingel, Derek Grant, Buddy Robinson, Cole Schneider, Garrett Thompson, David Dziurzynski, Max McCormick, Darren Kramer, and Alex Guptill (Jakub Culek and Danny Hobbs to Evansville)

An update on the fate of some former Binghamton Senators: Wacey Hamilton and Ben Blood are both on tryouts with the Utica Comets [the latter has been released], while Nathan Lawson is playing in Austria.  [Corey Cowick is on a tryout with Springfield.]

This article is written by Peter Levi (@eyeonthesens)